This blog has a small voice. Readers find it useful on subjects where rationality dominates, and strong opinions have not already been formed. If I have an opinion about the embassy move, it is of no interest to you. If I share my opinion, you are likely to filter future writings as “by that guy who believes that…” This blog is about analysis, not belief.
So excluding opinion, what can be said about the embassy move that isn’t already obvious? By following an issue over a long period of time, sometimes, using the tools of analysis demonstrated in this blog, something pops out. But “Who rules Jerusalem?” has been on everybody’s radar since at least 600 B.C. Nevertheless, perhaps something can be drawn out about possible near term mechanisms of change.
The individual human may have free will. But groupings of people behave statistically. Groupings that have been intensively studied since 9/11 are the pools of potentially radical youth. Every country has them. The members of these pools combine tabula rasa minds, not yet filled with attitudes and beliefs that exclude the poison of terror, testosterone, and the youth that makes them generational cannon fodder. In any generation, a certain number of young men end up being born to die, a fate we try to exclude by improving their firmware. Unfortunately, a certain percentage are running version 1.0.
The venerable bell curve predicts so many things, it is likely that if we throw enough young men into the grouping, the bell curve will reveal itself. On one tail of the bell lie committed pacifists. The other tail is made of out-of-the-box terrorists. In between lie the radicalizable. This is an ugly fact of human nature that we want to blame on bad upbringing. But in former times, cannon fodder actually had a purpose. They died for the survival of their clans, just like the warrior ants seen battling to the death on pavements during warm spring days.
It is reasonable to conclude that the moving of Jerusalem will result in a shift of the parameters of the bell curve, enlarging the groups who make the radical transition all the way to the tip of the bell curve tail, to terror. This has has nothing to do with rational opinion. If individuals have free will, groups behave with something approaching determinism.
But the leaders of the countries of the Middle East are individuals with free will. They’ve seen too much blood to want another war. To these rational minds, the imminent threat is Iran. This is the logical barrier to conflict over Jerusalem.
To stateless extremists, these leaders present an obstacle, but also a mechanism, for actualizing a conflict over Jerusalem. The mechanism is assassination. Three leaders are in particular danger. In order of vulnerability:
- King Abdullah II of Jordan.
- Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.
- Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt.
Abdullah is the most vulnerable because of
- Presence of radical elements in the Jordanian military, demonstrated at lower echelons, with implications for upper echelons.
- Proximity of Jordan to the locus of conflict.
- Heterogeneous population of mixed loyalty.
That Abdullah is alive today is due to an intrusive mukhabarat, not flag waving patriotism.
Prince Salman is vulnerable because the process of transforming Saudi Arabia into a modern state entails intermediate instability.
El-Sisi is vulnerable to the radical tail of the bell curve. Egypt has a complexity of society that facilitates concealed radical elements. But as the assassination of Anwar Sadat demonstrates, the same complexity provides Egypt with inertial stability against radical change.